Uphill task for BJP as four Rajputs lock horns for Doda-Udhampur seat

Unlike 2014 parliamentary polls, BJP is facing tough time on Doda-Udhampur seat where four influential Rajputs are in fray.

As the opposition political parties in Jammu and Kashmir joined hands to support common candidate of Congress party in both the seats of Parliament i.e. Jammu-Poonch (Raman Bhalla) and Udhampur -Doda-Kathua (Vikramaditya Singh), the BJP is “feeling nervous” and is contemplating to convince former legislator and ex-Minister Choudhary Lal Singh to withdraw his nominations.

In 2014, Congress candidate and present, Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad was defeated by the BJP candidate i.e. Dr Jatinder Singh for Udhampur-Doda-Kathua parliamentary seat in 2014 in view of Modi wave.

Similarly, Jammu-Poonch parliamentary seat went to BJP where Jugal Kishore Sharma was elected as MP in 2014. Even as Jugal remained in contact with the people, yet he is expected to face stiff fight from Raman Bhalla, candidate of Congress party who is supported by National Conference and PDP.

The contest on Udhampur-Doda-Kathua parliamentary seat has become interesting because all the four candidates are Rajputs, and it would snatch the vote bank of BJP, experts said.
As per the political experts, sitting MP and MoS in PMO Dr Jatinder Singh (also BJP candidate) has lost footing on ground with the party workers and general public “not happy with his performance”.
“There is resentment among the people against him.”

Even as Congress candidate Vikramaditya Singh also has less public contact, the member of Maharaja family and grandson of last Dogra Ruler Maharaja Hari Singh has become a strong candidate with the support of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party for Udhampur-Doda-Kathua parliamentary seat, they said.

Pertinently, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has influence on the voters of Chenab valley and other districts.
As per the political pandits, Singh is considered as a most favourable candidate Chenab Valley after two regional political parties i.e. NC and PDP extended their support to Vikramaditya Singh, while his counter-part DSS founder and contesting candidate from Udhampur-Doda-Udhampur seat, Choudhary Lal Singh is campaigning vociferously about “Dogra pride and separate Jammu State with anti-Kashmir rhetoric, may not be able to get support from non-Dogra voters”.

Lal Singh was sacked by the Mehbooba Mufti Government for participating in a protest rally at Kootah Morh in Kathua in alleged support of those who had been arrested in the rape-and-murder of an 8-year-old nomad girl.

Later, he led mass public rallies in support of CBI probe into the heinous crime, while openly giving green chit to the alleged rape accused. After turning his organization into political one, DSS contested Panchayat polls, and defeated BJP candidates in Kathua.
Lal Singh can influence Dogra Rajput voters and can cut the vote bank of BJP, experts said.

To convince him to withdraw his nomination papers, BJP has also started its efforts so that their vote bank is drawn in favour of BJP candidate Dr Jatinder Singh.
Not only Lal Singh, but presence of NPP chairman and contesting candidate from Udhampur-Doda-Kathua parliamentary seat, Harsh Dev Singh has also shaken BJP.

Experst said that the BJP has understood that unlike 2014, it would not be a cakewalk to win on Doda-Udhampur-Kathua seat where Kashmir-based political parties have joined hands, and their voters in Chenab Valley will support Vikramaditya Singh, a Congress candidate.
“They became MPs from last 70 years. What did they do for Jammu? Did they raise any issue of Jammu? We are demanding a separate state for Jammu and trifurcation of the State for equal share in development,” said former minister and ex-legislator from Ramnagar assembly constituency, Harsh Dev Singh, while speaking to Kashmir Post.

Singh also came down heavily on Dogra Swabiman Sangathan (DSS) founder and former minister Choudhary Lal Singh. “They all are from BJP,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that Harsh Dev Singh has a strong base in Udhampur, and Ramnagar. Political pandits believe, Harsh Dev Singh is also a major factor who may cut BJP votes in Udhampur and his constituency Ramnagar where he known as a strong political leader.

Speaking to media in Jammu, BJP State president, Ravinder Raina said, “We will talk to Lal Singh if he agrees to withdraw his nomination papers so that the unity of Dogras remains intact.”
“Like Congress, NC and PDP, who have joined hands, we should also join each others to save identity of Dogra and unity of Jammu,” said Raina.

He added that “Nomination forms are filled, and it can be taken back. We will talk to him.”
Launching attack on opposition, he said, if pro-Pakistan, pro-militants and pro-separatists parties like Congress, NC and PDP can join hands, why cannot Jammu-unit against them for its identity.